Year-In-Review: Part 1

We’d planned on this year-end post being just one entry, but after looking at all the things we accomplished together in 2016, it was impossible to narrow it down.  So we decided to bring you two posts about our year to make sure we didn’t miss too much!  Thanks for reading, and thanks for being a part of such a great year! 

It’s hard to believe that 2016 is already coming to a close, but as the year ends we’d like to take the chance to look back at some of the incredible accomplishments we’ve had together.  We hope you’ll enjoy this trip down memory lane as much as we did!

We started off 2016 and celebrated MLK Day of Giving with a brand new diaper drive for South Mississippi, and it was a huge success!  YOU donated more than 8,000 diapers in just a few short weeks, and helped children in young families all across our impact area.  It was such a success that we’re going to kick off 2017 with round 2.  We’ll be sure to keep you updated!

Starting in February, we worked with partners from across the Coast to push the Earned Income Tax Credit and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance to make sure that folks in South Mississippi got back the money they earned and saved money during tax season.  Thanks to this program, over 378,000 Mississippians received an average return of $2,917 through EITC claims in 2016.  We’re aiming to put even more money back in your pockets this year, so be on the lookout for news on how you can make sure to get back the money you earned!

As we moved into March (and, thankfully, warmer weather) things started really picking up for UWSM!  We made a connection with OrganWise Guys, a group that helps kids get healthy from the inside out, and formed a partnership with them to help South Mississippi take steps toward healthier lifestyles.  If you want to learn more about OrganWise Guys, check out their website!

After meeting OrganWise Guys, we turned our attention back to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, although it’s never far from the forefront of our minds.  Thanks to a generous donation of $10,000 from Harrah’s Gulf Coast, we were able to move 110 kids off our waitlist and onto the right track for reading readiness!  DPIL is hugely successful on the Coast thanks to our community partners and the individuals who donate, so we want to extend a great thanks to IP Casino Resort Spa, Harrah's Gulf Coast and all those who contribute!  We’re now sending more than 2,200 free books out to kids on the Coast every month thanks to you!

In March we also hosted a Women’s Leadership Initiative breakfast regarding Advocacy and how leaders across South Mississippi can make sure their voices are heard.  It’s always great to get so many energetic members of our WLI in one place!  We rounded out the month by spending some time on Easter weekend with Excel By 5 and area youngsters at Jones Park’s Easter Egg Hunt.  It was so much fun seeing all the kids out celebrating the holiday.  See for yourself by visiting our Facebook page!

We rounded out the 2015-2016 school year in April by hosting a career preparation day for Gulfport High School students through the GHS Rising Stars Academy.  We got great participation from organizations in our community and their leaders, and the students loved the chance to learn from the experts.  Thanks to everyone who helped make the event successful!

We know it’s hard to believe, but that’s only covers half of 2016.  Make sure to check back next week to see how the rest of our year went!